Skip to content

Sustainable Tourism

Tourism is vital to the Cairngorms National Park. It accounts for 30% of the economy (GVA) and 43% of employment. Visitors have been flocking here for centuries to appreciate the outstanding landscapes, wildlife and huge range of activities.

Loch Morlich beach, busy on a summers dayWe currently have an estimated 2 million visitors annually. Over half of those visitors, and two thirds of international visitors, say that National Park status is an important influence in their decision to visit. However, it’s crucial that visitors don’t undermine the very things that attract them in the first place – landscape, wildlife, culture, tranquillity.

Sustainable Tourism Action Plan 2023-2028

This Action Plan has been developed by the Cairngorms Tourism Partnership which brings together the key businesses and agencies involved in tourism. The Plan sets out the priority actions over the next five years to deliver sustainable tourism in the Cairngorms National Park.


LochKinordviewpointSquareSustainable Tourism

European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas is a practical management tool that enables national Parks and other protected areas to develop tourism sustainably based on 5 principles:

  1. Giving priority to protection;
  2. Contributing to sustainable development;
  3. Engaging all stakeholders;
  4. Planning sustainable tourism effectively;
  5. Pursuing continues improvement.

In 2005, just two years after designation as a National Park, the Cairngorms became the first National Park in the UK to be awarded the Charter on the basis of our first 5 year strategy & action plan for tourism. In 2011 and again in 2017 we were re-assessed on the basis of what had been delivered over the previous five years, as well as our strategy & action plans for the following 5 years. On both occasions we passed with flying colours. You can find the 2017 verifier’s evaluation report here. We have now submitted our latest action plan for assessment and expect a verification visit in early 2023.

Visitor Survey Facts and FiguresCairngorms Visitor Survey 2019/20

Every five years, the Cairngorms National Park Authority carries out a year-long visitor survey to help understand what motivates people to visit the area, how they get here, what they do and what they like and don’t like.

The latest survey ran from May 2019 until March 2020 when the Covid-19 lockdown brought research to a slightly early halt. The results are now in and the final report from the research is now available. View this report by clicking here, and a summary of the report can be viewed here.

In the meantime, if you need any more information about the research please contact Heather Trench on 01479 870545.

The previous survey was carried out in 2014/15 and the full results are here.

More information

If you’re interested in finding out more, or would like to have access to the full datasets, please contact Heather Trench on 01479 870545.

Economic Impacts of Tourism in the National Park

We commission annual analysis of visitor numbers and the economic value of tourism to the Cairngorms, and a summary of the data from 2011 – 2022 can be found here.  Please note that due to the methodology used, we consider that the 2020 & 2021 figures underestimate the number of day visitors to countryside locations as Covid-19 lockdowns were eased. If you would like any further information, or access to the full reports please contact Heather Trench on 01479 870545.

Making the most of the Cairngorms National Park for your tourism business - SIGN UP FOR UPDATES

Sign up to the Cairngorms National Park brand ebulletin to receive more information, advice, and updates on tourism and marketing in the National Park, and how to make the most of the National Park for your business.
(We will only use your details to keep you up-to-date with Cairngorms National Park brand and we will not share your information with any other organisation).